Many successful bloggers struggle with monetizing their content. At a core level, this struggle is often based on the principle of trust and authenticity (and that’s a good thing!). It’s sad, though, to see many quality writers succumb to the temptation of choosing money over honesty — to, in short, peddle products that pay well instead of introducing products they can endorse from their heart.
On the flip side, though, blogs cost money. And even more time. Since humans need to eat, and money is the medium of exchange for goods and services, we must have money to survive. Put another way, our time must be compensated for to justify the blog. In other words, this is why blog content needs to compensate the writer.
So, in light of the struggle noted above, how can a writer “gracefully” monetize his or her content?
There are many ways not to do this. And, thankfully, there are some strategies that seem to bridge this complicated chasm in a way that builds trust with readers while providing revenue for writers. What follows are four tips for doing this using affiliate links.
First, make sure your content is exceptional
As the author, you have the opportunity to be the expert. You’ve done the research. You have a unique perspective (and probably a solution). Here are a few tips to make your posts even more compelling:
- Curate information and summarize complex details. Always, though, write for your human readers and not Google.
- Answer questions (think about common voice questions too since many people “ask Siri” these days).
- Give your unique perspective, review, personal story, etc. That, after all, is what makes your blog decidedly yours.
- Offer solutions when appropriate.
- Be truthful. Always.
Provide your readers with options and convenience
One of the advantages of being a blogger is that you are in control of your posts. Put another way, you can create something short or epic, a single post or a series, summary tips or detailed instructions, images or text, and the list goes on. You’re limited only by your time and imagination, and, if you value your content actually being read, the interests and resilience of your audience.
Thinking of your audience, it’s helpful to know why they read your work. Is it for your personality? Your solutions offered? The recommendations you provide? Whatever it is, be sure to deliver that in a way that is thorough and convenient.
For example, if you are a tech blogger, you may provide tips and solutions that are heavy on screenshots and photos. You may recommend accessories and complementary products. These recommendations can be a great opportunity to deploy affiliate links.
Regarding affiliate links, many bloggers have resorted to just linking to products on Amazon. As many learned the hard way in early 2020, Amazon can abruptly cut commission rates to almost nothing. Amazon’s cookie life is typically limited to just 24 hours. Amazon provides almost no direct support to publishers.
If you’re linking to Amazon by default, it’s a good idea to also show at least one other alternative seller. There are thousands of quality affiliate programs so chances are high you can find one (or more) that pays far better than Amazon. This multiplicity of linking provides you with additional chances to set cookies (usually these cookies have a lifespan of weeks or even months) and earn affiliate commission. It conveniently gives your readers choice and shows them you didn’t just go the easy route to Amazon but did your research on the topic so they have options!
Naturally sprinkle affiliate links within your writing
Affiliate links tend to convert into paid sales more often when the reader is “warm” to the idea of the product or service you’re discussing. Put another way, if you ask them to buy too soon it can be perceived as disingenuous or you just “trying to make a quick buck.” But, if you explain the need for and benefits of the linked product or service as a convenient solution to a common problem, then it can be valued and welcomed by them. By this time the reader is much more ready to buy. You’ve also had a chance to convince them of your expertise and so they value your recommendations. The options you provide show you’re not running them through a “sales funnel” but actually helping them improve their life.
The inclusion of affiliate links within content at this natural point in the “conversation” is one reason why text links tend to convert greater than banners for affiliates. Link where relevant and without excessive “buy now” wording or anything that looks like salesmanship pressure. These links should be easy-to-find and use but should not shout to the reader. They can be included multiple times when appropriate. For example, it might be a good idea to regularly create a summary of recommendations (in bullet form) in your article’s footer that again shares these linked recommendations.
For a great example of a blogger using this approach, see this post. In it the author identifies a challenge and tells how to address the problem step-by-step (with screenshots). After seeing these things it’s very clear what needs to be done. It’s also obvious that this process involves many steps and will take a long time. He, thankfully for many readers, steps in and, using an affiliate link, introduces them to an automated tool that handles all these tasks easily. No high-pressure sales. Just an elegant solution. I’m ready to buy!
Tools to make affiliate linking easier for you
Keeping track of all your affiliate links across hundreds of posts can be daunting. Making sure they are current and working is even harder. Thankfully, there are some tools that make it much easier to manage affiliate links, especially for bloggers using WordPress. Here are three recommendations (affiliate links are being used where possible):
- Pretty Links – Not only does this WordPress plugin enable you to brand “ugly” affiliate links to your domain but you can use these links on social media and other platforms. Enter the affiliate link once within the Pretty Links dashboard and Pretty Links then creates a URL that when used “bounces” to the affiliate link automatically. Reuse that link on thousands of pages if you wish. Affiliate link need to change? No problem! Just edit the old one with the new one once inside the Pretty Links dashboard and you’re updated for all uses. Not using WordPress? You can do the same thing with RocketLink. Both tools provide valuable analytics too.
- Affiliate Coupons – This premium WordPress plugin makes it very easy to insert visually-appealing coupon blocks into your page and post content and sidebar and footer widgets. Affiliate Coupons has fields to enter an image, coupon code, descriptive content, expiration date, and more. Provide these details, categorize the coupon, and complete other options if desired and you’re ready to then insert the coupon blocks into multiple posts (using the Gutenberg editor or shortcodes). Update as needed from a central dashboard within WordPress.
In conclusion, following these tips can help you create quality content that can become a recurring revenue stream.
There are thousands of blog posts earning affiliate revenue — and some posts are doing this for years. That’s due, in large part, to their search rankings and other exposure; however, these benefits tend to be bestowed upon those with readers that recognized the content quality in the first place (time on site and number of page views can be ranking signals for search engines).
The prospect of long-term affiliate revenue per post greatly multiplies the earnings potential for your work. While it takes time to develop and get your content into the system, the resulting income stream can offset the costs of producing it in the first place. And that is great news for affiliates!